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  Brand is, as never before, design – I disagree

Wolff Olins: Brand is the Effect of What You Do – Not the Cause

Brand is only design if the 'configuration' aspect of design is included to measure value

The 'configuration' aspect of design is one of two aspects of design, and given the ubiquity of design nowadays this aspect has become, by far, the weaker of the two. The stronger aspect of design is design as 'form-giving'. This is the value of design measured exclusively in material terms

All things can be configured materially and/or perceptually in some way. This means it doesn't make sense to speak of design in the 'configuration' sense. Doing so makes everyone a designer. If everyone is a designer the value of design is void

A brand is most effectively defined as any discrete entity (or distinct identity) – it's that simple

What distinguishes a brand is scale, complexity and effectiveness in a given space. Identities are determined by both 'cause' and 'effect'. 'Cause' and 'effect' describe experienceable events. In material, linguistic and gestural terms, all identity is the outcome of experience

'Cause' is closely linked to 'imperative' and if a brand isn't part of an imperative there can be no 'effect' to measure

Strategy is good at handling imperatives. This means it takes precedence over design in value-adding exercises. The concern for strategy is 'what a brand stands for' and 'how to configure it better'. Strategy is exclusively about 'configuration'. Abstract models are undeniably useful to measure improvements in 'configuration', and not so easily dismissed

Design not subject to an imperative makes the value added by design to an experience impossible to measure. It's usually clear how design in the material 'form-giving' sense adds value, it's normally in response to an imperative, a cause

The value of any thing is the capacity to enable intervention

People employ brands because they enable greater intervention in ways that improve the quality of their experiences. It's on this basis that people care about brands. The more brands enable intervention, the more people care about them

'Cause' is primary in all circumstance. Sometimes an 'effect' reveals new possibilities and so new 'causes' can be identified. The two should never be confused

Both 'cause' and 'effect' are subject to a higher level closure that determines the experience of a brand. That closure is as follows: brand is any distinct identity and the measure of the value of that entity is the capacity to enable intervention

Experiences cannot be designed, they can only be configured

Design adds a very particular type of value to experiences, value that should be considered in material terms only. Design presented as anything else is an obfuscation of the role of design. Every other type of value doesn't require design because only value as a result of 'configuration' remains


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